Lucerne County Pension Fund Growth Highlighted

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The Luzerne County employee pension fund reached around $ 300.1 million at the end of June, County Budget / Finance chief Brian Swetz said on Wednesday.

The fund had plunged from $ 210 million in 2007 to $ 151.8 million before Morgan Stanley took over as retirement advisor in October 2008.

At the end of 2012, the first year of the county’s self-government structure, the fund was valued at around $ 202.2 million, Swetz said.

Since then, the fund’s value has grown by around 50%, said Swetz, who is one of the county pension council members overseeing the fund.

The fund has had positive returns eight years since 2012, including this year to date, he said.

“Since 2017, there have been many changes to both the makeup of the plan as well as the funding and pricing of the plan,” Swetz said, attributing “critical decisions” to the county council.

He cited the administration and council’s decision to use $ 8.6 million from windfall revenue in 2017 to make a double pension subsidy payment, fixing a ten-year-old deferral problem that had caused the fund had lacked investment income.

The administration also paid grants earlier, instead of waiting until the end of each year, to get money into the fund more quickly, he said.

In another example, Swetz said the Pension Board voted to lower the fund’s assumed rate of return to 7% to make it more accessible.

The taxpayer grant to this year’s fund remained at $ 14.5 million, county officials said.

The strengthening is needed to fill a gap that arose years ago, when investment income and employee contributions stopped keeping pace with obligations for future pensions guaranteed by law.

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